Howard County will continue to deliver essential County services to residents throughout the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, however starting March 18th, some services will be curtailed to protect employee and resident health. Beginning at 8:00 a.m. on March 18th, non-emergency County offices and facilities will be closed to the public until further notice, though operations will continue through teleworking by eligible employees.

Additionally, the Howard County Police Department is enforcing Governor Hogan’s Executive Order banning all gatherings of 50 people or more. Police officers will ask those in violation to voluntarily disperse and if individuals do not comply they will be subject to arrest and/or fines.

“It is essential that we provide continuous operations throughout this crisis. County government public services will be offered throughout this pandemic, but we are moving what we can online and via phone,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “I encourage our residents to check our website frequently for updates and continue to follow public guidance on gatherings, meetings, and events.”

The following services and offices are fully operational:

  • All emergency services including Police, Fire, Emergency Medical Services
  • Inspections of buildings, roads, traffic lights and other infrastructure
  • Trash and recycling collection
  • County parks (though residents are urged to stay off playground equipment, as their cleanliness cannot be guaranteed)

Access to County buildings will be restricted to County employees only beginning March 18, 2020. Further, County agencies and facilities will be changing their operating schedule or closing to help combat the infection. Below, please find a list detailing service modification:

Department of Finance guidance on alternative payment options, tax credits, water and sewer questions, recordation, lien certification, and tax sale notices can be found athttps://www.howardcountymd.gov/alt-pay.

Department of Inspections, Licenses & Permits will function remotely, delivering services online.Customers who are unable to use online services or who have service requests that cannot be conducted via mail, will be by appointment only. Call (410) 313-2455, option #4 for more information and direction. The Department will continue to inspect construction projects and properties with modified processes to limit person to person contact.

Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) will accept applications, related documents, forms, and plans via email to: planning@howardcountymd.gov or through direct mail to: Howard County Planning and Zoning, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043. Checks can be sent through direct mail. For assistance from the DPZ Public Service Counter, including checking out or returning plan drawings for red-lining purposes, please contact 410-313-4395. For all other general inquiries related to development plans or projects, community planning, agricultural preservationhistoric preservationhistoric preservation applications, and demolition form contact 410-313-2350 or email planning@howardcountymd.govContact information for individual programs can be found on the website, as well as applications, forms and fees. Plan review will continue through the electronic submission process (PDox).

Department of Public Works

Residents with General DPW customer service inquiries can send their inquiries via e-mail or telephone at 410-313-4400. Real Estate General Services (Developer Agreements, Capital Projects, Leasing Inquiries, ADO Agreements, Fire Protection Agreements, and Water & Sewer House Connections) can be conducted via phone and e-mail: RealEstate@howardcountymd.gov and 410.313.2330.

 Department of Community Resources and Services

The Department of Community Resources and Services headquarters at 9830 Patuxent Woods Drive, Columbia, MD 21046 are closed to the public. Phone appointments can be made via 410-313-6400. Multi-Service Center services will be conducted online or via phone at 41-313-0220.

 Department of Recreation and Parks

All Recreation & Parks indoor facilities, as well as headquarters at 7120 Oakland Mills Road
Columbia, MD 21046-1677 are closed to the public. Please check online for the latest information: www.howardcountymd.gov/rap. If you have a question, please call 410-313-4700.

Registration for summer classes and day camps be done online here or via phone 410-313-7275.

Office of Human Rights will suspend all outreach events and public hearings before the adjudicating body of the Human Rights Commission until further notice. Intake appointments for complaints of discrimination will be conducted remotely; members of the public wishing to schedule appointments should call 410-313-6430.  Online Complaints can be filed at: Online Complaint.

Howard County Council will be closed to the public until further notice. For more information, please contact your Council representative at 410-313-2001. Please check online for the latest information regarding changes to schedules, deadlines, and Council operation. https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/. April and May hearings before the Zoning Board, Board of Appeals, Council Hearing Examiners, and the Alcohol Beverages Hearing Board are postponed until further notice.

Howard County Police Department is encouraging residents to file reports online or by phone to limit officer’s exposure during this time. Online reports can be filed at tinyurl.com/hcpdreprts. To make a report by phone call 410-313-2200.

Regional Transit Authority

RTA fixed route will operate on an enhanced Sunday schedule during the week and weekend starting Wednesday, March 18 and run till further notice. Buses will run from 8:29 AM till 6:00 PM and provide one-hour headways on the following routes, 301, 302, 401, 403, 404, 405, 407, 408, 409, 501, 502 and 503. On vehicles with two doors, passengers are to board at the rear door unless a passenger requires a ramp. All fixed route and mobility fares will be temporarily suspended during the service modification.

RTA operations has proactively initiated an enhanced wipe-down service of all buses and paratransit vehicles to include disinfecting areas with high passenger touchpoints.  Professional Lysol IC Disinfectant Cleaner Concentrate is being used on all surfaces including handrails, fare boxes, seats, seat backs, windows, doors and floors. All full size buses are using AC/Heat units on high fan to draw the cleaning  solution through the ventilation system.  Paratransit contracted cabs are using a Lysol spray after each passenger and have hand sanitizers on board. We ask that all riders use proper social distancing of six feet when on the bus.

If you are not feeling well, please do not take public transportation. This is for your personal safety and the safety of our public transportation drivers. Call your healthcare provider immediately and ask for their guidance and assistance. 

 At this time, all RTA Mobility ADA certifications and interviews will be conducted over the phone. In office interviews are not available. All GPT trips are limited and only available for medical appointments social service agencies, and employment purposes. Rides will not be provided to schools or senior centers. Please contact RTA Mobility for reservations and service questions, 800-270-9553.

Meetings

Howard County has announced that the Planning Board Hearing planned for Thursday, March 19th, will now be hosted virtually at 7 pm. The hearing will be livestreamed online for those interested in watching remotely. Residents who wish to provide oral testimony, can do so via web conferencing, and are requested to sign up online by noon on March 19, 2020. Those who sign up on-line will receive instructions and a call-in attendee code.   For detailed instructions on providing oral testimony (via webex), please visit the Planning Board website. Written testimony can also be submitted to planning@howardcountymd.gov and should be submitted by noon on March 19, 2020.

 Howard County Public School System

Starting today, the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) began providing three meals each weekday free to anyone under 18 and to any HCPSS student regardless of age at the following locations from 11:30 to 1:30. There is no application, enrollment, or fee for this program.

School Sites:

  • Howard High School, 8700 Old Annapolis Road, Ellicott City
  • Oakland Mills Middle School, 9540 Kilimanjaro Road, Columbia
  • Swansfield Elementary School, 5610 Cedar Lane, Columbia
  • Cradlerock Elementary School/Lake Elkhorn Middle School, 6680 Cradlerock Way, Columbia

Mobile Sites:

  • Laurel Woods Elementary School Parking Lot, 9250 North Laurel Road, Laurel
  • Ducketts Lane Elementary School Parking Lot, 6501 Ducketts Lane, Elkridge
  • Bushy Park Elementary School Parking Lot, 14601 Carrs Mill Road, Glenwood
  • Monarch Mills Apartments, 7600 Monarch Mills Way, Columbia
  • Forest Ridge Apartments, 5890 Stevens Forest Rd, Columbia

Current and Updated Measures:

  • Governor Larry Hogan announced the Maryland Primary scheduled for April 28th will now be postponed to June 2nd. This does not include the special general election to fill the remainder of Congressman Elijah Cummings’ term in the 7th Congressional District, which will be held only through a vote-by-mail system. Read more on the State’s actions today.
  • The Department of Corrections is no longer allowing in-person visits to inmates, moving to virtual visits.
  • County Executive Ball signed an Executive Order to extend the deadline for all licenses, permits, registrations, and other authorizations issued by Howard County for 30 days after the Maryland State of Emergency ends.
  • The Governor issued an Executive Order to close all bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and gyms at 5 p.m. on 3/16/20. Carryout and delivery service is allowed. Additionally, there is a strict ban on gatherings of more than 50 people at all venues and locations per CDC recommendations. He has prohibited all utilities from shutting off any residential customers and is prohibiting any evictions.
  • The Maryland Health Connection opened a new Special Enrollment Period to uninsured Marylanders who need health coverage during the State of Emergency for Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • The Department of Social Services tools are accessible online or by phone: Apply for SNAP (Food Stamps or Cash Assistance), apply for medical assistance and health insurance, and long-term care. Or call 1-800-332-6347 and request a paper application and mail, email or fax to local office. Email: Howco.dss@maryland.gov. Fax 410-872-4231. Residents can submit any required documentation via the MYDHR portal or via email: Child support: hoco.child_support@maryland.gov;  FIA: fia.hoco@maryland.gov. Check MYDHR account for case updates.  Contact the call center at 1-800-332-6347 Monday-Friday 8:30- 5:00, call 410-872-8700, or Email Howco.dss@maryland.gov
  • Howard County is under a State of Emergency.
  • County Executive Ball directed the Mall in Columbia to close at midnight 3/15/20 for at least seven days.
  • The Shops at Savage Mill, and two movie theaters, Regal Snowden Square and AMC Columbia, were also instructed to close at midnight 3/15/20 for at least seven days.
  • All County employees that are able were instructed to telework as of Monday, March 16th until further notice. All out-of-state official travel for County employees has been canceled through April 24.
  • All Howard County Government gatherings, events, and meetings that attract one of the high-risk populations were canceled or rescheduled for March 12 – April 26, to be reassessed as new developments arise.
  • Howard County Government issued public guidance regarding canceling or postponing meetings, events, and gatherings.
  • Howard County Sheriff has stayed all evictions for March 13 – March 28, to be reevaluated with new developments.
  • All Howard County Public Schools are closed from March 14 – March 27.
  • All Howard County Libraries are closed from March 16 – March 27.
  • Howard Community College is closed for spring break March 15-22. All noncredit and credit classes are canceled March 23-29.
  • All 50+ Centers are closed from March 13th until further notice.
  • All 50+ centers programs, activities and events are canceled until further notice.
  • All indoor recreation facilities are closed from March 13 – March 27.
  • All Department of Recreation and Parks programs, classes, league play, and events are canceled from March 13 – 29, to be reevaluated on March 30th.
  • The Department of Recreation and Parks has cancelled all large events, gatherings, and weddings and any programs that include 50 or more people through May 11, 2020.
  • Wine in the Woods, which was scheduled for May 16-17 has been cancelled.

The above information is rapidly evolving, to stay informed on coronavirus updates, please follow social media for the Center for Disease Control, the Maryland Department of Health, the Howard County Health Department, the Howard County Government, and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. Email updates are also available by subscribing to the Ball Bulletin.

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Scott E